When I Googled for team building activities and employee engagement ideas, even those articles whose titles PROMISED that they're not cringe-worthy activities, are lying. So we took it upon ourselves to find some truly fun and worthy virtual employee engagement activities that's suitable for our global team.
We skipped the complicated vendor research process, and settled on a few interesting virtual activities on Airbnb Experiences. These Experiences have been curated and vetted by the Airbnb team, has verified reviews, and the platform also provides an easy booking process. Perfect for a small team like ours who has no dedicated person to do the complicated planning work (and a small budget).
We picked 4 Experiences to do together - 1 a week for an entire month.
How did we decide which 4 Virtual Airbnb Experiences which to go for?
A few factors were considered:
- Everyone shared the Experiences they were keen to try, on a shared Google Sheet
- We did a vote online for the top 4 to try for that month during our weekly team sync
- It should be wallet-friendly
- It should cater to the different timezones, given that we can team members from India, Singapore, USA, etc.
Here's the results:
1) Virtual Ramen Class & Tour
Ramen expert Frank Striegl is the owner of 5am Ramen - providing ramen tours across Tokyo pre-COVID. He now does these tours online, offering his knowledge on the different types of ramen, how to order ramen in Tokyo, and even video tours on behind-the-scenes at ramen restaurants.
Frank has eaten THOUSANDS of bowls of ramen across Japan, and you can tell that he truly puts in the effort when preparing his online tour experience. All of us had fun during the interactive presentation, and of course the topic of mouth-watering ramen helps! He also shared his slides for us to refresh on our next trip to Japan.
Tip: It sucks to do an online ramen tour while salivating. We prepared our own instant ramen to eat while experiencing the tour, which made all the difference!
Team Engagement Level: 7/10
Overall Experience Rating: 9/10
Booking link: https://www.airbnb.com.sg/experiences/1807898
2) Meet a Real Life Shark Scientist
Everyone loved this more than we expected.
Justin is a Shark Scientist living in South Africa, where he regularly goes out to sea to study, tag, and take care of sharks. During the session, he shares interesting facts about how his non-profit organisation saves sharks, and shows us images and videos of his shark adventures.
Our curious team asked SO MANY questions. All of which Justin answered happily. He also shared his presentation slides and extra resources for our future learning.
Team Engagement Level: 8/10
Overall Experience Rating: 8/10
Booking link: https://www.airbnb.com.sg/experiences/1659045
3) Follow a Plague Doctor Through Prague
We expected to experience life in Prague during the Plague, or at least an exciting adventure, given the images and videos in the listing page. However, what we got was more of a virtual tour of Prague, with live commentary (from a script) from one of the tour guides.
The virtual tour was led by someone in the Plaque Doctor mask, however we felt that it was quite boring and not engaging, save for a few 'quiz' questions. It felt like an oral history lesson, which we could easily have read on Wikipedia.
I fell asleep midway a few times. Another team mate decided to stop paying attention and do her work instead.
Team Engagement Level: 3/10
Overall Experience Rating: 5/10
Booking link: https://www.airbnb.com.sg/experiences/1658926
4) Learn Basic Sign Language
This was amazing!!!
Sign Language classes are the perfect thing to do as a group online. It's highly visual and you can see everyone signing, without feeling chaotic or interrupted. (You just have to look at everyone's screens, instead of having to mute/unmute/asking someone to mute.)
The trainer Matt was friendly and fun (ask him the different between signing for 'toilet' in ASL and Singapore Sign Language!), and we all enjoyed learning, practicing, and laughing at each other. We learned how to sign our names and basic words. You can even ask Matt how to sign for certain words, and everyone in the group will learn together.
Perfect for keeping all members involved and engaged!
Team Engagement Level: 10/10
Overall Experience Rating: 10/10
Booking link: https://www.airbnb.com.sg/experiences/1743490
Other experiences we're looking forward to try
- Dive with a Wildlife Cameraman
- Fun Giant Panda Time with a Nature Guide
- Cultivating A Champion Mindset with Olympian Michelle Carter
Let us know what you've tried with your teams too!
Keep your employees engaged no matter where or how they work
Such group activities, although fun, does not contribute directly to team members' motivation at work. High team morale and a strong company culture comes from team members feeling recognised and valued at work, and that their work makes an impact in company. As the saying goes, "People work for money but go the extra mile for recognition, praise and rewards."
You can make that happen easily with RewardNation's free Slack app. It uses a points-based system for employees to send each other recognition, and turn the recognition they received into 100s of rewards worldwide.
Want to learn more about how RewardNation can keep your remote employees engaged? Book your free demo here.
Anyway, this article is not sponsored (Airbnb, please let us know if you want to sponsor us - we're very open) and all opinions belong to the author.